SUN PRAIRIE, Wis. — A group of parents is suing the Sun Prairie School District following a virtual assignment given to students at Patrick Marsh Middle School earlier this year asking how they would punish a slave.
A press release ahead of the lawsuit being filed says attorney B’Ivory LaMarr and the parents are suing the district for pupil discrimination, intentional infliction of emotional distress, violation of Civil Rights, deprivation of rights, violation of the First Amendment and emotional anguish.
LaMarr says they will be seeking unspecified financial damages and a court-mandated bias training for the district.
“This is not about money,” LaMarr said. “There’s not any amount of money that would suffice for the actions these teachers conducted.”
The assignment was first reported to the district in February, when a parent shared a photo of the assignment online. In the screenshot, the assignment includes a prompt that reads “A slave stands before you. This slave has disrespected his master by telling him ‘You are not my master!’ How will you punish this slave?” with a box asking for the student’s response and another box that says “According to Hammurabi’s Code: put to death.”
“He had this look on his face, like I don’t want to do this,” the student’s mother told News 3 Now in February.
The student’s mother then emailed the teacher, asking what the point of the assignment was. The teacher said she did not know the assignment would be offensive and thought it would be a good point of discussion for students. The district later said their preliminary investigation found the assignment was not part of the district’s curriculum. It called the assignment a “grave error in judgment” and “not racially conscious.”
A News 3 Now investigation later found the assignment was part of a lesson plan teachers could buy online. That lesson plan has since been taken down.
Earlier this month, three teachers at Patrick Marsh Middle School responsible for the assignment resigned. As part of their separation agreement with the district, they will remain on paid leave for the remainder of the school year before leaving. The teachers were originally placed on administrative leave in February.
The district says it has been working with the community on equity education and initiatives since the assignment first came to light.